Sunday, April 05, 2009

The value of starting from a model...

Richard Bazeley sent this photo of student work. All his upper level students are working on a version of the same table. Each may have more or less success than that shown, but each has learned important lessons about the materials, the tools, the geometry of his or her own body, the workings of human attention and more. We are not the first to observe this.
"Let the youth once learn to take a straight shaving off a plank, or draw a fine curve without faltering, or lay a brick level in its mortar, and he has learned a multitude of other matters which no lips of man could ever teach him" --John Ruskin, "Time and Tide", 1883.
Does having made this table limit his students' capacity to do more creative work, or empower it? What if it captures for them a sense of what it takes to make, the rewards of creativity and the value of craftsmanship? It can be addictive... the feedback loop that Kelly Lambert calls, "effort driven rewards."

This discussion goes back years. G. Stanley Hall found Sloyd models to be limiting and restrictive of children's expression. Swedish architect Carl Malmsten fomented open rebellion when he taught at Nääs. It won't be solved in the pages of this blog. But, here, at least, we are talking about it.

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